US Coins

ICG grader details fourth Trade dollar reverse hub

A new fourth reverse hub for Trade dollars has been identified on an 1877-S Trade dollar by F. Michael “Skip” Fazzari, a numismatist for Independent Coin Graders in Tampa, Fla.

Fazzari’s discovery comes after more than 20 years of research on the series.

The primary diagnostic points on the newly identified reverse hub are the absence of a berry below the eagle’s claw, along with the presence of split-tail back feathers on the eagle.

Fazzari explains that, up until 1994, researchers and authors had divided Trade dollars into two different design types. The types were identified by the number of fingers delineated on Liberty’s outstretched right hand and the position of ribbon ends both on the obverse and the reverse, and the presence or absence of a berry under the eagle’s claw on the reverse, according to Fazzari.

Fazzari said his initial 1994 findings on Trade dollar design changes were first published in 1994 in Issue 61 of the Gobrecht Journal, the official publication of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club.

Additional findings were published in journal Issue 63 in 1995.

Subsequent research concluded that early dates in the series matched obverse and reverse characteristics previously used to identify Type 1 coins, with the later dates, on the whole, matching Type 2 diagnostics. Trade dollars were struck for circulation from 1873 through 1878; production from 1879 through 1885 was in Proof only.

However, Fazzari said, he was able to find evidence of type crossovers between the early and later dates, requiring further revisions to the type designations, to include a Type 2M obverse and 2M reverse. The 2M designations primarily occurred among coins struck in 1875, 1876 and 1877.

The old Type 2 nomenclature, according to Fazzari, was changed to include 2L to further delineate the reverse types as No Berry Under Claw or With Berry Under Claw, as described below.

Fazzari lists the most prominent diagnostics for each known obverse and reverse design type:

??Type 1 Obverse: Three fingers on Liberty’s extended right hand, ribbon end sideways, notched banner, finger spur.

??Type 1 Reverse: Berry under claw, smooth back feathers.

??Type 2M Obverse: Four fingers on right hand, turned-down ribbon ends, no finger spur on left forefinger, doubled top banner.

??Type 2M Reverse: No berry under claw, protruding double back feathers.

??Type 2 Obverse: Four fingers, turned-down ribbon ends, finger spur on left forefinger, notched bottom banner end.

??Type 2L Reverse: No berry under claw, rounded double back feathers.

??No Assigned Type Reverse: The new discovery is described as having no berry under the claw and split-tail back feathers.

Why is there a plain 2 and a 2M for the obverse types, while for the Reverse types we have a 2M and a 2L but no plain 2?

Fazzari explained this peculiarity in cataloging the reverse types, saying “the editor of the Gobrecht Journal suggested we divide the old Type 2 into the new Type 2M and 2L for the old Type 2 that was made up of a combination of two different hubs. 

“That is the way it has been since 1995. Type 2M and Type 2 make good sense. 

“Lucky for us, that’s not how it was done so now we may leave the 2L designation for the ‘split-tail’ and bring back the ‘old’ Type 2 for the normal hub.”

Fazzari said his findings will be incorporated within an upcoming book on the series by an as-yet-unnamed author. 


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